St. Martin Peninsula Research Natural Area

[photo:] Tiger lily (Lilium superbum), St. Martin Peninsula RNA. USDA Forest Service Photo by:Sally Sanderson, 6-16-12

St. Ignace
This RNA can be characterized largely as a matrix of swamp with “islands” of higher ground supporting dry-mesic northern forest (MNFI n.d.).  The wetland depression lake is completely surrounded by an extensive, dense, rich conifer swamp dominated by northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis).  The dry-mesic northern forest consists of balsam fir, white spruce (Picea glauca), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), balsam poplar (Populus balsamea), aspen (Populus spp.) and northern white cedar.  One reason that St. Martin Peninsula was selected as an RNA was for the unique web cobble beach on a Great Lake, and the minimally disturbed, fen-like wetlands.  

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
The weather station nearest to St. Martin Peninsula RNA is Moran (station no. 205591, latitude 45.99 N, longitude -84.83 W, elevation 211.8 feet (64.5 meters)).  Link to station is:
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
Annual rainfall averages 32.2 inches (818.4 cm). Annual snowfall data is not available.
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Annual maximum temperatures average 51.7 °F, and minimum temperatures 31.1° F. Annual daily summertime temperatures average 50.7 °F; average daily minimum temperatures average 31.1 °F.
Elevations range from 580 feet (176 meters) to 612 feet (186 meters) above sea level.
Geology and Soils:
Bedrock of includes the following groups: Engadine, Pointe aux Chenes Shale, Manistique, Burnt Bluff and Mackinac Breccia. The surficial geology is thin to discontinuous glacial till over bedrock, lacustrine sand and gravel, course textured glacial till and peat, and muck. The majority of soils include Summerville-Shelter-Posen, Brevort, Markey-Dawson-Carbondale, Wallace-Roscommon-Finch, and Shelter-Potagannissing-Posen-Ensign. These complexes are fine sandy loam, loamy sand, sand, peat, and silt loam. Drainage classes range from well drained to very poorly drained soils.
Aquatic Features:
The shoreline of St. Martins Peninsula displays the dynamics of Lake Huron, especially along the open fens, showing evidence of the cyclical rising of water levels and the subsequent re-advancement and colonization of wetland vegetation. Some of the shoreline wetlands and interdunal pools can support aquatic macrophytes during high water years.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

212 Laurentian Mixed Forest Province, 212R Eastern Upper Peninsula
212Re St. Ignace Lake Plain
Landtype Association
212Re04 Huron Lake Beds

National Vegetation Classification:

Class Forest and Woodland
Subclass Shrubland and Grassland
Formation Temperate and Boreal Bog and Fen
Division North American Bog and Fen
Macrogroup North American Boreal Bog and Fen
Group Eastern North American Boreal Alkaline Fen Group
Association Myrica gale Fen Shrubland

View or download Complete Plant List (pdf)

MI Natural Community Types:
Based on the Michigan Natural Features Inventory natural community types, St. Martin’s Peninsula RNA is composed primarily of rich conifer swamp [400 ac. (161 ha)], , dry-mesic northern forest [52 ac. (21.0 ha)], northern fen [41 ac. (16.6 ha)], and coastal fen [10 ac. (4.0 ha)].
Some Common Flora:
Typical flora in the coastal fen include: Potentilla fruticosa (shrubby cinquefoil), Myrica gale (sweet gale), Satureja (Calamintha) arkansana   (Arkansas mint), Hypericum kalmianum (shrubby St. John's-wort), Thuja occidentalis (northern white-cedar), Larix laricina (tamarack), an assortment of rushes and sedges, Salix candida (hoary willow), Rhamnus alnifolia (alder-leaved buckthorn), Uticularia intermedia (flat leaf bladderwort), and Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper).  Common flora of the rich conifer swamp include: balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea glauca), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), black ash (Fraxinus nigra) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera), Mitella nuda (naked miterwort), Coptis trifolia (goldthread), Trientalis borealis (starflower), Carex leptalea (sedge), C. interior (sedge), C. jlava (sedge; in open areas), C. gynocrates (sedge), Platanthera obtusata (blunt-leaved orchid), Glyceria striata (manna grass), Gymnocarpium dryopteris (oak fern), Gaultheria hispidula (snowberry).  Common flora in the dry mesic forest include: red maple (Acer rubrum), Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), Carex pedunculata (sedge), Dryopteris intermedia (evergreen woodfern),  Carex gracillima  (sedge),  Clintonia  borealis  (bluebead  lily),  Maianthemum  canadense (Canada  mayflower), Polygala paucifolia (gay wings), Cornus canadensis (bunchberry), and Pyrola rotundifolia (shinleaf).
Some Common Mammals:
raccoon, river otter, Eastern chipmunk, and white-tailed deer
Some Common Bird Species:
Birds: American black duck, red-breasted merganser, common loon, bald eagle, broad-winged hawk, Eastern wood-pewee, alder flycatcher, Eastern kingbird, blue-headed vireo, red-eyed vireo, winter wren, hermit thrush, indigo bunting, and pine siskin.
Some Common Reptiles and Amphibians:
green frog, leopard frog, American toad, garter snake, and painted turtle.
Potential Research Topics:
Baseline studies on fen ecology, successional studies on fire history, climate change effects on fens and Great Lakes water levels, and population dynamics of Houghton’s goldenrod.

Related Reports and Publications

Last Modified: August 19, 2021